Author Archives: Ryan Seal

2016 December Newsletter

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! We celebrated Thanksgiving a little early with our South African family. We had 19 people in our living room and everyone brought something. It was a wonderful time for us to give thanks for everything God has given us especially the special people here who support us and share their lives with us.

Thanksgiving in South Africa

Thanksgiving in South Africa

Many of you know but the most important news we have in this letter is another baby Seal! That’s right. Aryanna has been promoted to big sister. Baby Seal or Munchkin is due to arrive in March. We are very excited to welcome our second child into the world. Munchkin is doing very well and growing fast. This pregnancy has been more taxing on Elyse with morning sickness, mood swings, and fatigue. However, she has had no problems with fainting and low blood pressure.

Ryan has been working hard at reworking the Producer’s Tool. The lead developer for the Producer’s Tool left the Agroup and the technology it was built on is no longer supported. Therefore Ryan has been getting the software upgraded to a better base technology in order to make the app more stable. The new version is currently in testing phase and should be used for real work sometime early next year.

Side View of Munchkin at 20 weeks

Side View of Munchkin at 20 weeks

There have been some bumps and stalls in the pregnancy program in West Africa but Elyse was finally able to communicate with them in November and has continued writing. Instead of this program only being aired in Nigeria, it is now going to be played in more countries around West Africa like the Ivory Coast and Benin in French and English. With her second pregnancy being so different from the first, she has even more experience in what she is writing to these women.

 

 

Plans for the New Year

Our three years in South Africa are up in July 2017. We will be returning to the United States. Our visas expire on July 31st, however we are not sure if we will renew our visas or not. We’ve been thinking and praying this year about whether or not to stay on as missionaries with TWR. We do not take this decision lightly and we ask you to please pray with us as we consider the next step for our family. Whatever the choice we hope to honor God and to continue to serve Him where we are.

Thanks for Reading and for your support.  Please take time to read a listener letter from West Africa.

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Listener Letter From West Africa

I had been going to church for a long time, but always kept my fetish or talisman, because I was afraid of death. After listening to your show, I understood that the fetish is only a human invention and a lie, so I abandoned it; now I truly believe in Jesus Christ. Today I feel quite free. I know that Jesus protects me now and that nothing can happen to me if Jesus authorizes. Glory be to God!

~ A listener from West Africa

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September 2016 Newsletter

Four Generations of Elyse's Family

Four Generations of Elyse’s Family

A trip to the zoo with the family, swing dancing in a local coffee shop, and a big family reunion picnic to celebrate Ary’s birthday were just a few of the memories we made while we were in the USA. The month was a whirlwind. Ary traveled like a champ. She slept 10 of the 15 hours in the air – It takes a lot of energy to be spoiled by family!

We tried to see as many people as possible. In Colorado, we had a blast visiting with someone every night. While in Nebraska, we got to relax a little. Grandma and Grandpa watched Ary while we went to see the first 4th of July fireworks show we’d seen in two years. In New York, we had a day where both sides of Elyse’s family got together. Ary had three birthday parties and enjoyed a little bit of cake at each one. Even though our time was incredibly busy, family and old friends were a breath of fresh air.

We went from a New York summer to South African winter. Returning was a real shock to our systems. We got over jetlag slowly but now we are back to regular life. Elyse continues to write scripts for the pregnancy program during Ary’s nap times. She jumped right back into teaching JWAY on Friday nights. This term the grade 6 and 7 kids are talking about emotions – good one and challenging ones.

Now that is how to eat a birthday cake!

Now that is how to eat a birthday cake!

Ary no longer walks around, she runs which means she falls more too. Ary’s favorite things to do include playing in the dirt, throwing leaves at mama, and reading books. She loves animals and tries to make the sounds. She also tries to talk too. Her best phrases are, “all done” when she finishes a meal, “dada” and “hi kitty”.

Ryan’s work

The past month for Ryan has been more involved in helping our various partners. He’s been working with a colleague in the US to make sure a new version of the Producer’s Tool is read for our partners. We also had a long meeting with our “Area Ministry Directors” (I.e the leaders who are in charge of various areas in Africa) to see how we can help them improve their ministry from a technical perspective. It’s been good to take a step back from the big picture of LinguaDMS and managing our media files and focus more on the individuals that make the programs that run the ministry. Please pray our last year before furlough will be fruitful for Ryan’s attempt to help our ministry partners.

Thank you again for reading and praying for us. We hope you are encouraged by the listener story we posted here: http://www.splrk.net/twr-stories/listener-encouraged-by-abstinece-teachings/

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Listener Encouraged by Abstinence Teachings

“Thank you for your programme on abstinence. I am encouraged by the actions of your guests and the advice helped me to solve a problem with my sexual partner who did not want to listen to me. I told him simply to legalize our relationship so that we no longer talk about abstinence and he said he is not ready for a serious relationship. This is where our paths diverged. I am calm and happy today to live my life as I heard on your programme. I practice abstinence. Thanks to TWR.”

~from a listener in Cote d’Ivoire~

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Our Newest Team Member

Welcome to the world Aryanna Beth Seal. We have been waiting for a while for you. Ary is six weeks old. On June 20th at 1:30am, my water broke. I was a little concerned because the fluid was discolored. 10 minutes later, we were driving to the hospital. The nurse put me on a monitor. When we heard the heart beat , the nurse said, ” oh that’s a relief. I wasn’t sure we would hear a heart beat.” I thought, ” what do you mean?!” The doctor came in after an hour of monitoring and said that the baby was going into distress and so we would have to do a c-section. This was my worst nightmare. I had prepared myself for a lot of things but a c-section wasn’t one of them. However, an hour later Ryan was holding our little girl in front of my face. She came out happy and healthy. Our silly girl liked to do flips in the womb and got the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.

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Life since June 20th has been wonderful and hard. Aryanna has dictated our schedule since then which is why the announcement is finally coming now. I actually have been writing this update for 2 weeks. My mum and sister came out to South Africa for 5 weeks. They were an absolute blessing to Ryan and myself especially when Ryan got bronchitis and I struggled with breast feeding all 5 weeks.

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Thank you so much to everyone who sent us money or gave us a gift or even sent an encouraging message. You have blessed us so much.

Aryanna mean gift from God and she definitely is that. She is 4.02kg or 8lbs 13 oz. At the moment, she has dark brown hair and hazel eyes. She is a very peaceful baby and smiles at us often. She loves to be cuddled. We have such a special little girlIMG_2665.

I get 3 months of maternity leave. I am still trying to decide whether I should stop working, work from home, or find someone to watch Aryanna during the day. Please pray that we would make the best decision for our family.

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June 2015 Newsletter

The highest rates of infant mortality happen here in Africa. A baby is 500 times more likely to die on the first day of their life than when they are a month old. Half the women in Africa give birth without any skilled birth attendant to help them. This breaks our hearts, yet motivates us to action.

elephants

Elephants that Elyse and Joelle saw during Joelle’s time here

Elyse is spearheading a new “Healthy Life Series” broadcast. She’ll be writing scripts that teach mothers about birth and how to care for a newborn. The project is just starting, but its one Elyse can’t wait to start broadcasting.

In March, the TWR house next to us opened up as we said goodbye to our good friends. We’ve been preparing one of the rooms for our baby who is due in July. Soon after that one of Elyse’s best friends, Joelle came to visit. They had a blast together! We got to introduce Joelle to South African culture and made sure she ate as much of the local food as possible.

We had the strangest baby shower I have ever heard of. The only person who wasn’t there was the mommy to be! Our conclusion: Skype doesn’t do well in baby showers. Elyse still had a great time talking to everyone even through she couldn’t be there. Thank you to all who were able to come to the baby shower Elyse’s mom and sisters held for her. We feel so blessed by your support and love.

baby_cake

The cake Beth (Elyes’s mom) made for the remote Baby shower

JWAY continues to be a joy. Around Easter we were able to have a Passover Seder with the kids. This term Elyse’s group is studying about prayer. I was so encouraged when we put this into practice the other night. We had two in our group moving to different countries for missions and schooling. The kids gathered around, laid hands on them, and prayed for them. It was a special night.

TWR Emergence in Africa

At the end of March, Ryan went to another Emerging Leaders Conference. This time it was here in Johannesburg. The group has started to become more of a community. Many of us have begun interacting more in our work instead of just at the conferences. Almost everyone there changed their position since the last time we met. The connections and relationships being built are invaluable.2015_06_emlc

The time I (Ryan) spent there this year I felt was the most beneficial of the three so far. The material hit closer to home than before. Thank you all for who have been praying for me as I participate in these gatherings.

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March 2015 Newsletter

dibbun

One of the first pictures of “Dibbun”

When Elyse announced her pregnancy, I’m not sure I really believed her. When we got the first ultrasound… well hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time was thrilling!  In that moment we knew our lives were about to get interesting!  We’ve decided to affectionately call our baby “Dibbun” while he/she is in the womb.  Elyse is due July 2nd.

Meanwhile Elyse’s Ebola programs are out and broadcasting in 6 languages, including English and French from Nigeria to the Ivory Coast on our medium wave transmitter. We are also broadcasting on local FM stations in the affected countries. One broadcaster told Elyse he especially wants to get the message out about Ebola since kids in Liberia are allowed back to school this month.

jway_kids

Kids and a fellow leader J-Way

Elyse also started using Friday nights to volunteer for J-way, our church’s children’s ministry. Many of these kids are from the neighborhood and are un-churched.  She has 10 to 15 grade 6 and 7 kids at J-way (the second biggest group!) They are discovering who is God, what is sin and why do we need a Savior? The kids are throwing good questions at Elyse thick and fast. One girl, Lynn, told Elyse that she wondered what test we will have to get into heaven. Elyse was able to share the gospel with the whole class. Please pray for these students that they would come to salvation. We even have a boy, Danial, who is Muslim. He has had a rough start in life and has quite an attitude. Please pray that he will experience God’s perfect love here and for Elyse and her helpers to have patience.

We had the privilege of seeing one of my (Ryan) cousins on her way passing through Johannesburg.  It was a fresh reminder of home and family.  We had a great time catching up and talking about all of South Africa’s idiosyncrasies that make us American’s look twice.  Thanks Brittany for taking some time to spoil us with a little bit of home.

How Social Media Impacts African Communities

One of the things you learn in another culture is how some differences are very subtle, but extremely important. One of the things I’ve noticed in Africa is just how important being able to talk to someone is.  This became clear during a lunch conversation I had with a a South African colleague who is working on our social media pilot project: “Tools for Wise Leadership.”

Social media in Africa may be one of the most important parts of media ministry.  Africans love to talk, they love to say hello.  When we broadcast a facebook page or WhatsApp number to contact someone, they respond.  In only 3 weeks, my colleague has had 250 people message him on WhatsApp. While some of the conversations go deep, he told me some of the people will simply  say good morning and if he hasn’t responded by nighttime, they say “good evening.”  Sometimes ministry in Africa is just being willing to say hello and be open to friendship.

As part of my LinguaDMS role, I’ve been helping get Tools for Wise Leadership online and available on TWR360.  It’s been a great encouragement to play a small part in this project and to see the ministry grow.  If you’d like to check it out, you can view it online at http://www.twr360.org/ministry/116/

 

As always, we appreciate your time and support.  Please take the time to read the listener letter this month:  What Bible Over the Radio Really Means

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What Bible Over the Radio Really Means

bible_hand

We received a very short, yet powerful letter this month from a Listener in Ethiopia. We wanted to share it with you because it illustrates how powerful radio can be for remote areas. One of the reasons we joined TWR was because of the need for God’s word around the globe. From our background, it’s easy to take a Bible for granted seeing that we grew up with too many English translations to count! However, it’s hard to take it for granted after hearing from this listener.

“Though I am a student whose pocket cannot afford to purchase a Bible, your Bible teaching programs on the radio allow me to write down every word of God you broadcast. Now I have almost 32 exercise books on which I have written down the notes. Every day I read from my exercise books using them as a Bible and I am blessed from it.”

Original Picture by Suzanne Chapman

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August 2014 Newsletter

Ryan, his dad and brother-in-law at a birthday celebration this summer

Ryan, his dad and brother-in-law at a birthday celebration this summer

Flight BA218 left Denver on August 10th, carrying both of us on our way to South Africa! Through your generous donations we’ve met our financial goals to begin our work with TWR. We had a busy couple of weeks and now we’re finally getting to work here in Johannesburg.

We did our best to make short visits to our supporting churches for a quick “thank you” and “farewell.” We spent our last month in the US going through our belongings and eagerly waiting for our Visas to arrive. We had a lot of decisions to make about what to bring with us, what to sell and what to give to someone else.

During our round of farewells, we had the chance to visit Cross Bar X – the camp we volunteered at last summer. The camp director asked us to be the Bible teachers the first week. We had a blast and were grateful to be be able to visit our dear friends in Durango one more time.

Elyse at camp game time

Elyse at camp game time

Here in South Africa we’ll be living in what is called a “granny flat.” This is essentially a small apartment attached to a house. We’ll be living in the granny flat of a TWR owned house while another TWR couple stays in the main part. We’ll be about a 5 ½ mile drive from the office.

We’ll had a few days to get settled in, but after that we hit the ground running. Please  continue to pray for a smooth transition. We can’t wait to begin writing newsletters about our life and work in South Africa. Thanks for all your support!

Report on Emergence 2014

Ryan and Colleagues at Emergence 2014

Ryan and Colleagues at Emergence 2014

In our last newsletter I (Ryan) mentioned that I would be going to Germany to participate in the Emerging Media Leaders conference. Thanks for all your prayers. The conference went well. I learned a lot about the importance of developing my own character in the midst of a heavy workload. Even in ministry it’s easy to get focused on the task and forget about the importance of family and God. Please keep praying that God continually develops our character while in South Africa.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  Please check out the listener story we included with the letter this month: A Door to the Light.

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A Door to the Light – A Story of Hope from the Middle East

Web_small_MiddleEastThe following is a letter from one of our Arabic listeners.

“Dear Friends, your radio broadcast is one of a kind. From where I live, Christianity is vague, and we do not have literature or books about it. Since my childhood I liked Jesus Christ, but because no one could help me with knowing Him better, I tried to seek different means and ways…

Many Christian TV channels and radio stations criticize non-Christian religions. I found that only TWR is not doing that. Apparently, TWR is going with the teachings of Christ, to love and to forgive one another. TWR talks about the truth that Christ taught.

I’ve always wanted to have the Holy Bible, but I couldn’t find it in my country because it is forbidden. I did finally download it as a phone app, and now I can read it all the time, but I couldn’t have loved the Bible if not for the Thru the Bible radio program! It really is helping me understand Christ and Christianity.

The program is like a door to the light for me, with all the teachings and explanations. I feel happy and do not want each episode to end, because it is like treasure for me! Many of those who are around me are listeners, too, but they are hesitant to write because of security issues. Thank you so much and keep it up.”

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